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OpenBSD/loongson is still alive (openbsd.org)
76 points by katzeilla on Sept 9, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 32 comments

I didn't realize the significance of this, but searched a bit more, and found this:

> OpenBSD/loongson is a port intended to run on systems based upon the Loongson (also known as Godson) 2E and 2F MIPS-compatible processors, using the PMON firmware and boot loader

> ...

> Supported hardware:

> Lemote Yeeloong netbook [1]

The Lemote Yeeloong rang a bell, since it's one of the few computers that's "built on free software from the BIOS up" that was recommended by Richard Stallman [2]. Glad the effort to run this is still going strong and supporting the latest version of OpenBSD, released in May!

[1] https://www.openbsd.org/loongson.html

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemote

Stallman's Lemote Yeelong got stolen while on a business trip. He has not been able to replace it with the same model because no longer made / sold out, so he is using a less free laptop now (forgot which, and might've changed).

It seems he is using a Thinkpad T400s computer with Libreboot [1] endorsed by the FSF.

[1] https://stallman.org/stallman-computing.html

> Stallman's Lemote Yeelong got stolen while on a business trip.

Interesting, I never heard that story before. Did he use full-disk encryption? One could presume that Stallman has signing keys for some GNU projects, so wouldn't the loss of his personal computer represent a major security issue?

Only if he has signing keys on a mobile computer he takes on travel ... Which isn't a good idea to begin with.

(And yes, one could argue that a disk in an office or server could be stolen as well, whereas a laptop is in sight and loss is noted immediately, but I won't agree)

Aww I wish I had known. I actually gave my lemote laptop away becauee it was just gathering dust. Would have proudly given him mine.

I wish I had one. I would have proudly given him mine. I wonder if he'd accept it, given that he'd perhaps reason it would force me to give up my ehh.., freedom, I guess.

They're less well supported nowadays than they were. For instance, they used to be well supported by Parabola (one of the FSF-endorsed distros), but since then Parabola's dropped support for MIPS, because every Parabola developer working on MIPS either had their Yeelong crap out or get stolen; and they're hard to replace.

Also, MIPS has never been supported by Trisquel (another FSF-endorsed distro), and I suspect that since the lead Trisquel developer has since been hired as the senior sysadmin at the FSF, he gets some value out of giving RMS a laptop running Trisquel.

Ruben is now the CTO at the FSF :)

A Surface Pro? :)

I thought this was obvious, but that's only because I use a Lemote Yeeloong with OpenBSD, because it's the only maintained system that's simple to install. I'm not much for Gentoo.

One issue I ran into was no pre-built packages for newer releases, so when I updated to 6.5 I had to downgrade to 6.3 to get any packages. Sans that, it's also unfortunate that Common Lisp implementations don't tend to support a MIPS that isn't under GNU/Linux; the GNAT compiler for Ada also isn't available. I can get GNU APL though, so that's nice.

Since some are wondering, I bought mine about eight years back for a few hundred dollars and even back then the website that supplied mine soon ran out of stock.

This article has reminded me that I'd intended to make pictures and descriptions of my Lemote Yeeloong available on my website months back, which is a great option for my 2019-09-09 article, so I'll do so.

Owning this machine has been a nice way to not use x86(_64) for everything and it's made me intent on my software working properly on less common machines and operating systems. My choices of language have likely already betrayed that, but I eventually intend to write implementations of my own and I'll ensure my Lemote Yeeloong is well supported. I also must remember that OpenBSD may not support it forever, although I could perhaps take over if it's ever necessary.

I could write more concerning this, but this seems sufficient.

The good news is, pre-built packages for latest release(6.5) are available now!


Making SBCL work on non-Linux systems isn't usually very much work.

I'd be interested in the article.

I read a little bit about this a while ago. Is there still a way to buy these? I've heard great things about systems development on the MIPS platform but haven't had a great reason to invest myself in learning the architecture. Any opinions from others on that subject would be appreciated too. I missed the boat with the Imgtec Creator CI20 board, unfortunately. Does anyone know of any other Linux capable MIPS development boards on the market?

Thanks for the resources. You'd be shocked how little you can find with a quick search for 'MIPS development board'.

You could also experiment with running Linux in Qemu.


I've done this recently, I followed(ish) [1], and [2] recipes, but modified them for buster.

I'd write it up, but I'm way to lazy^Wbusy right now.

[1] https://markuta.com/how-to-build-a-mips-qemu-image-on-debian...

[2] https://www.aurel32.net/info/debian_mips_qemu.php

One option is to get one of the many OpenWRT compatible routers -- something like 80% of them will run on a MIPS CPU (though the trend is starting to switch to ARM for more recent platforms). That's how I got started with MIPS development several years ago.

Or if you want to go less standard (e.g. won't run Linux), get a modded PlayStation 1 :-)

Hey, technically, a stock PS2 can run Linux, and that’s still MIPS.


But modding a PS2 only requires a memory card with FreeMcBoot on it (it's literally plug and play), and at that point you might as well use an updated version of Linux like frno7's.

This is true. I am mostly pointing out PS2 Linux as an interesting footnote, though it is probably a good argument that PS2 + FreeMcBoot is a better option than modchipped PS1 for MIPS computing.

I've thought about the router suggestion! The PlayStation idea is a great one I didn't think of! It looks like there's a great variety of devices running with MIPS CPUs. I was more specifically looking for a system capable of more traditional computing, but I definitely plan to take a look at smaller scale MIPS devices. How do you find embedded development for MIPS compared to ARM and RISC-V? I'm interested after hearing from people that it's a much better architecture, though I can't validate that for myself yet.

With the PlayStation 2 you can run Linux on MIPS[1], though it's a highly nonstandard MIPS; you'll need to get a memory card with FreeMcBoot. Plus, even if you plan to do embedded development, the PS2 is much more documented than the PS1.

As for a "more traditional computing" experience, you can always look for an SGI.

RISC-V borrows heavily from MIPS, so the two have a pretty similar development experience.

[1]: https://github.com/frno7/linux or else source the official PS2 Linux Kit.

> As for a "more traditional computing" experience, you can always look for an SGI.

There's also the Digital Electronics "DecStation 5000" series that were R3000 and R4000 based, which could run Ultrix or probably some of the more modern BSDs.

They're probably rarer than used SGIs, but may be cheaper if you're lucky. (Though used 200MHz SGI Octanes are pretty cheap and plentiful in the US)

Very cool!

Imgtec was acquired by Chinese investors, ironically a condition of the sale required by the US was that they sell off MIPS.

It looks like the CI20 is still available from one retailer at least: http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/products/1253305/ Quite expensive though.

I've used this for some time on a yeelong hosting my personal website dank.systems (currently down due to an issue with the colo). The base system is in excellent working order, though some of the ports are broken on loongson in my experience.

So is netbsd/m68k.

I am unsure what your point is.

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